Sandia Man Cave, Trailhead & Trail 72

Area Status: Open
A view of the metal staircase spiraling up to the mouth of the Sandia Man Cave

The Sandia Man Cave is located on the north end of the Sandia Mountains high up on the steep cliff walls of Las Huertas Canyon.  The trailhead is off of NM 165 and is marked with a sign.  It is a 0.47 mile hike from the parking lot to the cave.  The trail leads to a concrete staircase, then to a limestone ledge in the cliff, and finally to a metal staircase that spirals up to the mouth of the cave.  A daylight visit is advisable, as well as appropriate clothes and shoes.

The cave was discovered in 1936 by a University of New Mexico anthropology student.  From 1937-1941 UNM excavated it.  Found in the cave were stone arrow and lance points, basket scraps, bits of woven yucca moccasins, and skeletal remains of Ice Age animals such as the mastodon.  No human remains were discovered.

Please refer to the Sandia Mountain Trails map to plan your course.

  • Cell phone coverage is not guaranteed.
  • It is the recreationist’s responsibility to use a map.
  • Trail(s) are open for the following uses: Hiking.

At a Glance

Area Amenities: Interpretive Site,Parking
Fees: This area does not require an amenity fee.
  • If you recreate on a regular basis in the Sandias or other national lands you might consider purchasing one of the America the Beautiful Passes or a Sandia Annual Pass at the locations listed below.
Open Season: Open year round weather permitting
Water: No
Restroom: No
Passes: Click here to Purchase America the Beautiful Passes or contact the locations listed below. **Sandia Amenity Passes can be purchased at locations marked with asterisks.
  • **The Sandia Ranger Station, 11776 Highway 337, Tijeras, NM 87059, 505-281-3304
  • **The Cibola Supervisor's Office, 2113 Osuna Rd, Albuquerque, NM 87113, 505-346-3900
  • The SW Regional Office, 333 Broadway SE, Albuquerque, NM 87102, 505-842-3898 (does not carry $30.00 Sandia Amenity passes)
  • **REI, 1550 Mercantile Ave NE; Albuquerque, NM 87107  (REI does not carry America the Beautiful Passes)
Operated By: US Forest Service

General Information

General Notes:

Open year round weather permitting.

When there is snow, driving a 4-wheel drive vehicle is not a guarantee to get in and out of this area. Four wheel Drive vehicles have been known to get stranded and abandoned for a season, due to getting stuck in the snow and or mud.

  • NM 165 and 536 are two of the last roads to be plowed in the winter.
  • The Interstate and other roadways take priority due to the high volume of traffic on I-40, NM 14, NM 337 and Old Route 66/NM 333.
  • It is the recreationist’s responsibility to know what the road conditions are before venturing out.


Approaching from the North end of Sandia District (Placitas): From Albuquerque, drive north on I-25 to Exit 242 Bernalillo/NM 165, stay to your right as you exit the ramp. Proceed east on NM 165. The drive to the Sandia Man Cave is approximately 11.3 miles from I-25. NM 165 vears south and heads into the Sandia Mountains. When the pavement ends the road is bumpy. The parking area is on your left.


Approaching from the South end of Sandia District (Albuquerque): From I-40 and Exit 175, drive toward Cedar Crest on N-14. Follow N-14 aka the Turquoise Trail, for approximately 6.5 miles, to NM 536 aka the Sandia Crest Scenic Byway. Turn left onto NM 536. Look for Balsam Glade Picnicking Site which is approximately 7 miles up NM 536, (about one mile past the base of the Sandia Peak Ski area) turn right and then take a quick left. This will put you onto NM 165. Follow down it for appoximately 4 miles. This road is very rough.The Sandia Man Cave parking area will be on your right.

(MVUM) Official Motor Vehicle Use Map - North

More About Bears

Living With Large Predators in New Mexico

About the Civilian Conservation Corps

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking


Interpretive Site:

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
7,040 ft - 7,180 ft